Wednesday, 9 December 2009
The Wonder of Woolas
If Mr Brown had had anyone at all that he could have used as a replacement minister responsible for immigration, it would have been a good idea to have sacked the present incumbent pretty soon after he was made to look like a complete and utter muppet by Joanna Lumley over his ridiculous misreading of the “court of public opinion” concerning the Ghurkhas’ case.
Clearly, having trawled the back benches in the Commons and the Lords, and looked around anywhere and everywhere, under park benches for all I know, looking for someone, anyone, from anywhere, that could take the job, he has failed (again).
And that is why we were all entreated yesterday to listening to the unlovely Phil Woolas (OK, I’ve heard all the jokes... probably?), rumble on about how perfectly reasonable it was, in the current economic climate, for him to pay out bonuses of around £10,000 each to the senior executives of his Border Controls Agency.
He claimed that they were very brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us.
Firstly, I don’t want to put down the work that some of the members of that department do. There are hands-on people working undercover trying to find traffickers, indeed people who probably do risk life and limb in the pursuance of a good result. But we’re not giving them bonuses. The people who are getting the ten grand extra of our money are senior management.
Mr Woolas told the Today Programme “We’ve got a superb management team that is getting on top of what is probably the most difficult public policy area in political life. There are 285 million people who visit the United Kingdom every year, and organising that mass movement of people to protect our borders from the people who have bad intent is a huge job.”
He indicated that to do that job of protecting our borders from all these people with bad intent he needed to get the best people. Apparently, unless you pay massive bonuses to managers they just won’t do a hand’s turn. I’ve often wondered why governments of all political shades seem to find it necessary to pay vast amounts to get good managers (otherwise you just get rubbish), but seem content to have one of the lowest minimum wages in the EU for ordinary workers.
(In any case, it seems that all that extra money hasn’t really made any difference at all. We all know that the government’s immigration policy and practice went off the rails years ago. We have no idea how many immigrants are here; we have no idea how many released from prison are not deported... indeed, we have no idea......... of anything. Oh, and another thing, whilst it is relatively important to guard the borders, I'd think it was a bit of an exaggeration to think that it was the "most difficult public policy area in politics". Hmmm, talk about being up your own Woolas!)
Anyway, he added insult to injury by making the remarks on the day that the 100th death of a British soldier in Afghanistan this year was reported. Of course, I don’t make any distinction between the 100th and the 99th or the 3rd, but there is for some at least a symbolic importance to the number 100.
These front line troops are entitled to a bonus after 6 month tour of duty. It amounts to somewhere in the region of £3,500 for a normal infantryman out there fighting the Taliban. Now I wonder if Mr Woolas would like to compare and contrast the various dangers that a soldier in Afghanistan, on the front line faces with those of a typical manager in the Borders Agency moving his desk to that side of the room, or arranging his flowers on the coffee table we provide him with....
Like I said at the beginning, surely, surely in the whole country (coz Brown has long since given up trying to appoint ministers from the Commons) there must be someone with just a little more savvy that this dim-witted placeman, whose foot seems to reside permanently in close proximity to his mouth. He’s not even likeable; he comes across as a smug, self satisfied, supercilious moron. Phil Woolhead would be every bit as appropriate a name for him.